The world’s first non-fermented, multi strain probiotic drink products have been created by a Brisbane-based food technology start-up.
Progel, a start-up initially formed by UniQuest, with investment from UniSeed and Brisbane Angels will commercialise the technology developed by Professor Bhesh Bhandari from the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences with a $250 000 Commercialisation Australia grant.
The end result of the technology will include an omega-3 milk and juice with up to four times the omega-3 of omega-3 milks already on the market, without a fishy smell or taste.
Only safe food ingredients are used in the products, including alginate, a product derived from seaweed and sustainably harvests, that is often used in foods including ice cream.
The research team led by Bhandari has already developed successful prototypes of the products.
Together with Australian and international food and ingredient manufacturers, Progel will examine the commercial viability of Progel’s encapsulation technology.
They will then co-develop new products with levels of probiotics and omega-3 currently unavailable in milk and juice products.
“Omega-3 and probiotics have been selected to test the technology as they have widely accepted health benefits and broad consumer awareness, but are only available in a small number of foods or as supplements,” Bhandari said.
“Adding probiotics to manufactured dairy and juice products can improve digestion and general gut health, and boost the immune system.
“However, such products are not currently possible, as milk and juice products with probiotics go sour within days.
“And even though existing food products fortified with fish-based omega-3 oils only have small amounts added, a residual smell and taste is common.
Bhandari says the benefits of the products will benefit consumers who previously did not have to option of such high levels of omega-3 and probitoics without the fishy taste.
“The key advantage of Progel ingredients is that they don’t affect the quality, texture, taste or smell of the product, and products containing Progel encapsulated actives may provide sufficient levels of active nutrients to provide a beneficial source of probiotics and omega-3 to consumers,” he said.
“Probiotic and omega-3 juice products made possible by the Progel technology also include calcium, so they would offer many of the health benefits of calcium, probiotics and omega-3 to consumers who do not regularly consume milk and yoghurt or oily fish.”
The health and wellbeing markets throughout Western countries are growing at a speed of knots, as the negative impacts of unhealthy eating and lifestyles become well known.
Progel chief executive, Cameron Turner, says the company’s new products will greatly benefit the industry partners by establishing a point of difference and offering innovative products with important health benefits, while also giving primary producers the chance to regain market share and profitability for their brands.
“Health-conscious Australian consumers have shown they value products made for their particular needs and tastes, which is why the market has become so competitive,” Turner said.
“Innovative products represent a new opportunity for price premiums and Progel’s products will help improve the bottom line for future-focused milk and juice companies, as well as their associated dairy farmers and fruit growers.
“If it’s successful here, Progel will join a long list of Australian food innovations exported to manufacturers around the world.”